Although the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets were the biggest winners on draft night, the Celtics quietly walked out a much better team. Given the three picks they had, the C's definitely got the best talent available for their team.
With the 21st pick in the draft, they selected Jared Sullinger, who just a few months before was projected to be a lottery pick but dropped down as a result of a lack of athleticism and bulging disks. And let's be clear here: despite what Andy Katz said, the issue is bulging disks.
So he doesn't necessarily have the same "issue" as Greg Oden, and we hope in terms of his bust potential that he is unlike Greg Oden as well, because there definitely is some bust potential with Sullinger, and the Celtics know that.
People say that with his size and skill set he has a best-case scenario of Charles Barkley and a worst-case scenario of Glen Davis. To me, that's a pretty good range. Based on that, he could be, at best, a Hall of Famer or, at worst, a sixth man that scores in the low double digits every game.
Either way, the Celtics win. And in all likelihood, Sullinger will end up somewhere in between Barkley and Big Baby. He will never be Charles Barkley. Although he is significantly bigger than Barkley was, Barkley was much more athletic, and as much as Sir Charles is a once-in-a-lifetime personality, he is also a once-in-a-lifetime player.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sullinger will be better than Big Baby because he is much more skilled on the offensive end with solid post moves, and he is a better rebounder as well.
Based on that, we are looking at a solid power forward who can fit into the Celtics' system and make an impact right away. And let's not forget how productive he was in college.
He averaged a little over 17 points and nine rebounds a game during his two years at Ohio State against some great competition. Sure, he may not be able to score as easily in the post in the NBA, but he certainly will still be able to find ways to score in big numbers.
With his good mid-range game he will be able to run the pick-and-pop well with Rajon Rondo and get easy scoring opportunities.
In Boston, Sullinger will not only get good offensive opportunities, but he will also be in a great learning environment. With Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass in front of him, Sullinger has the chance to learn from one of the greatest power forwards ever in KG and a player very similar to himself in Bass.
Those are two of the best players for Sullinger to learn from and the knowledge of the NBA he will acquire from being around his new teammates will no doubt help him a lot in his young career.
For Sullinger and the Celtics, it is a perfect pairing. This veteran Celtics team will aid Sullinger's development while Sullinger will make the Celtics a better team now as a good option off the bench and in the future as a potential starter. It was a smart pick by the Celtics and they will soon reap the benefits.
One day, we may look back at this pick as one of the biggest steals of the 2012 draft because, remember, this was the 21st pick, and usually there aren't players with as much potential as Sullinger still on the board that late into a draft. Definitely worth the "risk" for the Celtics.